Monday, October 4, 2010

Riverport Du 2010

Ended up having a coffee at the Bike and Bean Cafe in Tatallon today. Fortunately the Bikes bit was closed. You know how I can get in bike-shops, even (perhaps espcially) small ones! The cappuccino was a bit disappointing; the coffee wasn't bad but it was just a mass of foam on top. I guess I'm getting too used to Zane's army of Special-Forces Ninja Barristas

That can't necessarily be a bad thing, can it?

I really enjoyed the Riverport Duathlon last Sunday. It was nice to race a TNS race for once. Quite a few people asked me how I felt racing instead of officiating. Well, I've not officiated too many TNS races this year, only three, even if I have done more running rces. Then again, I've done a few more higher profile events this season. I've said it before and I'll say it again. As "glamorous" as it may be to work the high-profile ones; to wear the ITU gillet-vest and stand on the blue carpet under a branded gantry, there are more smiles and fewer high maintenance Brazilian women at local events!

(By the way, if you were wondering, that's a good thing!)

The weather Gods had finally smiled on the duatlon. They had good weather, which they were (ahem) du after a couple of years of dreary and/or decidedly awful days.

I started the race out on the front row and tried to hit it from the gun. My race strategy in duathlons, as you all know is to run R1 like there's no bike, hold on during the bike and run R2 like I hadn't done anything else that day. This isn't due to anything other than a brutal assessment of my abilities. I can run, and not badly, and my cycling isn't anything like what it used to be. So, knowing I can lose up to five minutes during an hour's worth of TT, if I can peg back two or three minutes on each of the runs, well now it's a race.

Just because there is a bike-portion where really expensive bikes are used doesn't mean that this has to be where the race is decided and the runs are just inconsequential pro- and epilogues to the main event. If you feel like that then get thyself to BNS and do a proper TT. If you think that running is an integral part of the race, stay here.

And don't get me started on the people who whine about the swim in the triathlon.

So, I took off on R1 in, what you may call my accustomed spot, which you may remember from the inaugural 2006...

...and 07...
...and 09 (missed '08 but was there as TD so in a way I was still at the front of the pack for R1, just trying to stay out of shot!)...

See what I mean?

I think I need a new duathlon outfit!

I thought there was a gap, but after a few hundred metres Jamie Haynes - the Cyclismith winner, was on my heels. Never mind, it's always nice to share the work. We hit the 2km turn in a shade over seven minutes; no wonder it felt fast. I know, I know, the courses aren't wheeled etc etc, but this was clearly fast! Jamie pulled away from me shortly after the turn and made it look so easy. I'm not sure if I slowed up of if Chris MacKenzie speeded up, likely both, but by T1 Jamie had 14" on me and Chris was only 12" behind. I mean, 3:30s out of the gate? C'mon!

T1 was a mess. I think I managed to nail it in broad brush strokes, but the exigencies of fixed meant my cycling shoes had to be on and tightly buckled before I left my spot. Jamie was long out whilst I was still farting around with my shoes and Chris passed me in T1.

The bike felt pretty good. The 78" gear (42 x 14) was much better than the smaller gears I'd been using before and I manged a 33.8 kph average, a faster average than any of my outings on fixed before and a lot closer to where'd I'd be TTing on gears. There was an added advantage too; my overall cadence was lower, only 85 rpm, compared to the >90 on the smaller gear. Last year I span up the climbs but also had to spin down them. A speed of 45 kph on 75 fixed is a cadence of 125 (135 on 68") and it only goes up from there, so after spinning up a climb you really have to spin down the other side and there is no time for any recovery. On 80" fixed, 45kph is only 123 and it is easier to recover.

The climb of Grim Road is really a series of climbs, each only a few hundred metres long, followed by a short descent. It continues almost ladder-like for 8 kms. By the final couple of rungs of the ladder the gear was starting to feel a bit heavy. I'd been locked in a battle with Alan Miner for the past 10 kms or so and I was heartened by the fact that even though I was finding the hill hard, he must have been too as he wasn't pulling away any more.

Interesting factoid about Riverport; it's the Bermuda Triangle of Nova Scotia. Not that ships go missing there, although I have heard of many triathletes, duathletes and roadies who have mysteriously lost their legs on that loop. Rather it's the terrain. If it's windy, the there's a head-wind all the way around the loop (think about it). That climb on Grimm Road? It's a real-life Escher print! Starting at sea-level you climb a series of ramps, each followed by a short descent; it feels like snakes-and-ladders - up three, down one. Yet 5 miles later you emerge at sea level. Huh? Where was that nice downhill?

Like I say, spooky. Maybe I'll spot a flight of Avengers in the underbrush next year if I keep my eyes peeled?

T2 was a real mess; less haste more speed and remember to undo the drawstring laces before taking the shoes off in T1. My legs didn't have the accustomed zip coming out onto the road and it took a kilometre before I started to feel fluid. Compared to other years on fixed, I was a little more ahead inthe race and it was, consequently, quieter. I got Alan Miner back just before the turn and he told me there was nothing but empty road ahead.

Coming into the turnaround I saw Stephen Cameron ahead. Looking at the results, he'd come into T2 four minutes head of me; I took 45" off hin in R1 but he more than handily took that back, plus another three minutes plus on the bike. Yet he was slowly coming back. By the time Rt2 332 came back into view, he was definately closer. Mindful of my usual attitude towards sprinting for a mid-teens place, and then ignoring it I tried to find a finishing kick for the final 1300 metres. He slowly came back, but it was too slow. The last 500m were uphill, and I did a Jen Voight

Still, it looked to be futile; the gap was still too long, I needed another kilometer but I wasn't going to get one so I had to live with it. The calculus wasn't resolving and soon he'd hear people cheering "he's behind you" (what is this, panto?).

Still, I gave it everything! As we headed into the car-park he went the wrong way and headed back into TZ instead of down the finishing chute. Sportsmanship and honour dictate I should have let up then; he'd had the best of me, I'd been found wanting over the previous 35 990 metres and it wasn't his fault he couldn't navigate his way through the cones in the final ten (it does look confusing).

I'm ashamed to say I didn't.

I am, however, pleased to report he corrected his mistake in time and took the placing by one second. Chapeau Stephen!

I had the measure of a few guys who'd beaten me at DIFS and Cyclesmith. The larger gear helped me be more compeitive, as did the kickings I'd been getting from Mac Grant on the bike all summer! I finished the day 12th overall in 1:22, perhaps surprisingly 2 seconds slower than last year. The bike was quicker, but the runs were slower. Even if I had the 2nd fastest R1 and 3rd fastest R2 I needed them to recover from the 27th fastest bike (not even the upper quartile!). Swings ands roundabouts. Que sera sera. The age-group results weren't much better; 5th and no, Cozy-Beehive, there were more than five in my age-group! Still, 40-44 is clearly the age-group of death with a full four of the eleven spots ahead of me taken by my conferes, with a hefty number of 35-39s just champing at the bit to get into 40-44 and do some real damage. And by hefty I mean thin, fit and cut with slow-twitch muscles (you know who you are Shawn Amirault!)

Meanwhile a mile up the road (12th place was seven minutes down on first place), Chris MacKenzie passed Jamie on the bikeand took the race by 90" or so, courtesy of the fastest bike and R2. He always says I'm the better runner, but Chris is no slouch and is clearly better than me off the bike (as well as on it). As I said earlier; the run is integral to duathlons and you should play to your strengths! Chris clearly has two! Jamie Haynes was second, whilst Mark McMullen was 3rd thanks to so some solid splits!

Le belle had a better race, all kitted out in her swanky Team Canada uniform from Worlds. She managed to start the race in the bathroom, as in she came out of the school and saw the tail-end of the pack heading down the road. All fired up she (ahem) whizzed through the crowd and onto the heels of the pack, working her way up to lead the ladies race into T1 by the slimmest of margins.

Elmo, her custom Guru, was sulking, probably because she bought that new Condor. What went wrong? What didn't? Firstly we couldn't get her tri-bars on in TZ. Normally five minutes work, today it was all dropped screws, dropped shims, pinched cables and she ended up throwing them in the trunk in frustration as the equation "tribars or warm-up" started to be resolved out of her favour! Then she blew her front wheel in TZ pumping it up! Fortunately we had a spare in the car. Sure, it was an RSX Shimano hub laced to a 36 spoke 1990 vintage, box-section Mavic MA2 but it was 1) round 2) had a new tyre on it which was 3) inflated. Job done! Out on the course her chain was skipping more than Sarah Dobrowski, which was odd because it hadn't been doing that all week! She reckons that cost her a couple of minutes fiddling with derailleurs and trying to find a working (stable) cog-configuration.

Still, she came in 3rd lady overall, and as overall ladies winner Suzanne Ferrier was also in her age-group she was given the overall 35-39. Sweet!

Good day out for her! Tri-bars and Mavic Cosmics...who needs 'em anyway?

We had the boys with us, who were incredibly well behaved given that their morning consisted of hanging around an empty school-yard while a bunch of grown-up kids were playing silly buggers for a couple of hours. So afterwards we stayed on the South Shore, took the ferry over to La Have

Where we hit the bakery!


Thanks to the Bridgewater Tri Club for putting the event on; RDs Tom Rogers and Jen Worden, the local RCMP, all the voluntolds, marshals and officials. It was a great, nay perfect, way to end the triathlon season.


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